£6 note

New Jersey, AD 1776

Printing with coloured inks and leaves

From the late seventeenth century, the British colonies in North America issued their own paper bills to fund military expeditions, public amenities, and to provide currency for everyday use. This practice continued during the American Revolution and War of Independence (1775-80), with each state still issuing its own notes.

To discourage forgery, some of the notes featured imaginative printing techniques, well ahead of their time. The front of this high-value New Jersey note is printed entirely in red and blue, a hundred years before colour printing on notes became widespread.

The notes were often printed on the back, another advanced feature for the time. This note shows the charming effect of 'nature-printing' to produce images of leaves. Plaster casts were made from real leaves, such as strawberry, willow or buttercup. These were then used to make lead casts for printing. The security value lay in the unique pattern of veins on each leaf. The technique is particularly associated with the printer and publisher Benjamin Franklin (1706-90), though it was used by other printers.

Find in the collection online

£6 note

  • Back of the note

    Back of the note


More information


J. Cribb, Money: from cowrie shells to c (London, The British Museum Press, 1986)

E.P. Newman, The early paper money of Ameri, 3rd edition (Krause Publications, 1990)


Width: 111.000 mm
Height: 60.000 mm

Museum number

CM 1932-5-3-1


Gift of J.T. Hadwen


Find in the collection online

Search highlights

There are over 4,000 highlight objects to explore